Friday, July 2, 2010

Word Play

"A consumer is one who has surrended to others the power to provide what is essential for a full and satisfied life. This act of surrender goes by many names: client, patient, student, audience, fan, shopper. All customers, not citizens. Consumerism is not about shopping, but about the transformation of citizens into consumers."

Peter Block and John McKnight, The Abundant Community

There's a good point here -- about empowerment, choice, authority, etc -- but the words ultimately get in the way. For example, it's hard not to see citizens as consumers in electoral politics -- fed some programmed stuff, offered few real choices. Now, what's the voting rate? And isn't the challenge to turn consumers into citiznes? On the other hand, many use the word customer in the business, public, and nonprofit worlds to suggest accountability, focus, choice, empowerment, etc. Political scientists hate this word, but choice is a powerful thing and much needed.

And why are students equated with consumers? Isn't learning the heart of citizenship.
I won't say anything about the aspersions caste on fans.

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